The nearest star to the Sun, Proxima, was discovered this year to host an Earth mass planet in its habitable zone. Proxima is only 4.24 light years away. Can a camera fly by this planet to find out whether there is life on it? Starshot is a new project aimed to develop the technology that will enable to launch a spacecraft at a fifth of the speed of light, so that it will reach Proxima within our generation. The concept is based on a high power (100GW scale) laser beam pushing a lightweight (gram scale) sail, attached to a chip containing a miniaturized camera, communication and navigation devices. The feasibility study phase of the project had just started at a funding level of $100M for the next 5-10 years, with CfA participation.
Speaker: Avi Loeb
Host: Charles Alcock